Jock Doc

Soccer player has pain in lower abdomen and groin - a sports hernia?

Q: I am a 25-year-old soccer player who developed pain in my right lower abdomen and groin. The more I play or run, it bothers me. I saw an orthopedic surgeon who thought I had a sports hernia. I went to a general surgeon who said I did not have a hernia and thought that physical therapy would help. I have rested and done therapy but I am no better in three months. I cannot play and wonder what to do now?

A: Sports hernias are not traditional hernias where there is a weakness in the abdominal muscles and an out pouching through the defect. Sports hernias are common injuries in soccer and hockey and can also be seen in basketball and football. The athlete will complain of groin and lower abdominal pain that worsens with play. There is no obvious defect in the abdominal muscles and subtle tears of the hip adductor and flexor muscles can be missed. Even an ultrasound or MRI scan may not be diagnostic. Many general surgeons, who do not treat athletes regularly, can miss the diagnosis. I recommend you seek another opinion from a surgeon with this experience.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to